kthxbye Adobe

For years I’ve been talking about life after Adobe, and reading yet another glowing review of Pixelmator 3.0 FX (a product I reviewed in favorable, but less-than-glowing terms), it struck me that I’ve actually gone cold turkey on Adobe for over a year now and there’s nothing pulling me back.


As in all articles I write about Adobe, this one carries the caveat “except for Adobe Ideas on the iPad which I love”. (I should note that I bought Adobe Photoshop touch when it came out, and I never use it.)

Now, I’m not going to argue that Adobe’s amazingly capable programs aren’t needed by anyone. If I were a full-time graphics professional I would doubtless use Photoshop (perhaps no longer Illustrator). If I were still working in print I would use InDesign or Quark (or FrameMaker). If I were doing video, I might use After Effects (if not Fire / Flame / Combustion / Pyromaniac / Napalm or whatever). But I’m not, and I suspect a good many of Adobe’s long-term customers aren’t either. Furthermore, a lot of people I see “professionally” using Photoshop aren’t really doing anything with it that they couldn’t do faster and more easily in Acorn or whatever.

But it doesn’t matter — for me, Adobe is irrelevant. (Except for Adobe Ideas, which I love.)

Acorn replaces Photoshop

Probably the main thing I miss in Acorn from Photoshop is solid typographic tools but, frankly, I don’t do very much typographic work any more so I don’t care. (And Acorn provides direct support for some of Cocoa’s core typographic tools that Photoshop either doesn’t or successfully buries.) For logo work all you really need is “convert to outlines” (or in Acorn’s terms: “Convert to Bezier Shape”) and Acorn has that covered. Acorn launches faster, and has deeper and more powerful non-destructive filter support. And when I encounter bugs I report them and usually see a fix within one or two releases (which are frequent).

Pixelmator is occasionally useful. Mischief and Art Rage deserve mention too. I have utterly given up on Photoline — its lack of attention to detail (in terms of producing excellent output) always seems to bite me so I stopped paying for upgrades.

iDraw replaces Illustrator

iDraw not only replaces Illustrator for my purposes, it exceeds it (and also Illustrator used in combination with Photoshop) for my purposes. It’s not perfect, but neither was Illustrator.  My current main use for iDraw is creating textures for my 3D projects.

I briefly flirted with Artboard (but soured on it), and I’ve also tried Inkscape (which is free and very solid), Intaglio (which is a straighter Illustrator replacement, but overpriced), ZeusDraw, EasyDraw, and Lineform. They’re all acceptable, but iDraw is downright awesome. I also bought the iPad version which is staggeringly capable (although I still find touch-based draw programs hard to use).


I was never a big Fireworks user, but Sketch is something of a replacement/successor for Fireworks — a vector-centric UI creation tool that happens to live and breath SVG (making it highly interoperable with iDraw).

HTML5, CSS3, and Javascript replace Flash

Now, if I were going to do Flash-type stuff, I would probably want to use Hype or Adobe Edge, but certainly not Flash. Just to give you an idea of how dead Flash is, Coherent UI is a product that lets you develop video game interfaces using webkit instead of Flash (or Scaleform) and it’s taking the Unity community, at least, by storm. Indeed, given how behind the Unity next-gen UI seems to be, perhaps Unity will license Coherent instead of continuing with its apparently stalled project.

Aperture does not replace Lightroom; perhaps Finder does

I don’t currently use Lightroom, but every time I use Aperture or iPhoto I’m tempted to switch (back — I used LR2). I’m honestly hoping for a major upgrade to Aperture in the next few months or I’m going to switch to something. That said,  I didn’t much care for Lightroom’s overarching user interface, so I’m not sure I’d switch to Lightroom in any event (what I’ve already halfway done is switched to Finder for managing my photos, and then dumping them into Lightroom for processing (which it is great at).

Motion replaces After Effects and Premiere

If I did more video editing, I’d probably mention Final Cut Pro X, but I don’t. Motion does pretty much everything I need in a video editor, and pretty much anything After Effects can do (minus deep Photoshop integration) and some things besides. I love it. This is lucky, because video editors are one thing the indie and open source community appear to suck at.

Markdown and CSS replace InDesign and FrameMaker

I used to suggest Pages for casual page layout, but bugs in Pages ePub export have driven me to despair. Every year for the last ten years or so I’ve used Markdown for more things. Thanks to Mou, I’m using Markdown for word-processing now, and the amazing thing is that together with CSS (and electronic publishing) it essentially removes the need for page layout software. If you want something fancier than Mou there are quite a lot of options including Ulysses, Texts, and Markdown Pro.

So that’s it. Except for Adobe Ideas, I really no longer have any  use for any of Adobe’s products. I might be more tempted by Lightroom if it weren’t an Adobe product with all that currently entails. I might be tempted to try out Adobe Edge if I were still working in Web Advertising. (Heck, I might still be using Flash.) But it’s remarkable to see how Adobe has gone from indispensable to dispensed-with in five short years.

Farewell Adobe, it was great — well usually pretty good — while it lasted.